To determine whether West Nile virus (WNV) persistent infection in avian hosts may potentially serve as an overwintering mechanism, House Sparrows and House Finches, experimentally and naturally infected with several strains of WNV, and two naturally infected Western Scrub-Jays were held in mosquito-proof outdoor aviaries from 2007-March 2008. Overall, 94% (n = 36) of House Sparrows, 100% (n = 14) of House Finches and 2 Western Scrub-Jays remained WNV antibody positive. When combined by species, 37% of the House Sparrows, 50% of the House Finches, and 2 Western Scrub-Jays were WNV RNA positive at necropsy, up to 36 weeks post-infection. Infectious WNV was not detected. Our study supports the hypothesis that some avian hosts support the long-term persistence of WNV RNA, but it remains unresolved whether these infections relapse to restart an avian-arthropod transmission cycle and thereby serve as an overwintering mechanism for WNV.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases